University System of Georgia hires in economic downturn as other state agencies shed jobs

ATLANTA — While the rest of state government eliminated 10,000 jobs during the Great Recession, the University System of Georgia added more than 5,000 employees.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports some schools increased staff by as much as 45 percent while students faced increases in tuition and fees. Colleges say they needed to hire staff to keep pace with increasing enrollment.

During the same period, the state cut nearly $300 million from University System funding, and the system turned to students to cover hiring costs.

Unlike other state agencies, the State Board of Regents can raise tuition and fees to offset budget cuts.

System spokesman John Millsaps says enrollment has increased 17.7 percent systemwide in the past five years. The system has seen cutbacks since the recession.

Colleges have increased class sizes and reduced the number of course sections offered, furloughed faculty and staff and required some professors to teach more classes. Hours have also been reduced at libraries and tutoring centers.

But there have also been gains, including new construction, high-priced administrators, new academic programs and football teams.

Millsaps said the system is making several moves to make the system more efficient. Some schools are merging, for example.

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